Allen Kessler takes heat for critical post-WSOP tweet

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jul 17, 2013 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

KesslerAfter a long hard-fought battle Carlos Mortensen was eliminated from the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event in 10th place, missing out on the chance to be part of the four-month long November Nine celebration, and missing out at further cementing his legacy as a tournament poker player –not that it needs much cementing. As most people congratulated Carlos on a terrific run one well-known poker player, Allen Kessler, decided to fire off a Tweet criticizing the 2001 WSOP Champions play, calling it a “meltdown.”


Bizarre meltdown by Carlos mortensen unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Especially on the bubble for the November 9 of the wsop main event.

The tweet by Kessler, whose criticisms usually involve tournament structures and comp points, rubbed a number of people the wrong way, including Kessler’s good friend Raymond Davis –the Felix of the pair’s Odd Couple friendship–, who took to Facebook to lambaste Kessler –who plays the role of Oscar:

It was really out of line for Allen Kessler to take to twitter and criticize Carlos Mortensen, for his play last nite, Carlos will never say anything, because he is a gentleman well Allen, I am not!!! the man played perfect poker for 7 day’s!!! he went threw over 6300 people, and fought like the CHAMP he is!!!! even without getting a decent hand in the last 3 day’s, you said he had a epic meltdown, please explain when he had this meltdown, the only meltdown I saw was your 2013 WSOP performance!!! you still have yet to tell the world how much you lost at this years WSOP, you will brag about going to some hole in the wall town and coming in 5th to a bunch of Jed Clampett looking MF!!!! but history shows your negative EV in WPT’s and WSOP’s, I know you cant say the same about Carlos Mortensen, can u??? I just don’t know what make’s you make these out of line comments on twitter, why attack a guy like Carlos??????

If you think their friendship is now over after Ray’s tirade think again; this is a regular occurrence between the two; they are truly poker’s Odd Couple. Ray’s post elicited a number of responses and not simply from poker fanboys. Among the respondents were myself, poker journalist Earl Burton, Matt Savage, Allyn Jaffrey Shulman, Cory Zeidman, and Allen Kessler himself. As of now the post has 83 comments.

So what exactly happened to warrant Allen Kessler calling Carlos Mortensen’s play a “Bizarre meltdown” unlike any he’s ever witnessed? Apparently it was the final two hands of Mortensen’s 2013 WSOP where he played what most would call “weak” or “unconventionally.” Here is a look at the two hands from the Live reporting team:

Personally I have several issues with Kessler’s Tweet.

Long Term Thinking in a Once in Lifetime Spot

The problem I have with being critical about his play is that the WSOP November Nine isn’t your typical moment. Things like “the best play with A9 on the button long-term here is xxx” don’t really matter, because you’ll likely never be in this situation a second time let alone enough to ever hit the long-run. A situation like this requires trusting your reads/instincts and of course a little luck.

Every year we see odd plays at the WSOP final table (Phil Collins limping his button), and it’s a combination of the moment and players deciding to trust their reads more than the “correct” long-term play. There is something to say for leaving yourself an out in a tournament where pay-jumps hit seven-figures. So yes, in any normal tournament scenario you shove your A9 from the button, but making a standard raise in the WSOP Main Event isn’t out of the question, depending on your feel for the game and read on your opponents.

Also, “weak” play isn’t always incorrect. Without knowing Mortensen’s reasons for playing these two hands in such a manner (or what he had in the first one, my guess is something like KQ) it’s really hard to criticize the manner in which they were played, even if it bucks the current strategies of playing a 12BB stack. Maybe he was trying to get JC Tran to shove on him from the Big Blind?

In the final hand he held second pair and a draw to the nut flush (assuming no straight flush) and got his opponent to put him all-in on a very wet board. So Mortensen had a bluff-catcher hand and outs to draw to if his opponent did have him beat.

Honestly, if he wins the hand because Tran bluffed at it most people would be saying how he outsmarted his opponent and played the hand in a non-conventional way like only a champion could.

The Tem “Meltdown”

It’s hard to “meltdown” when you have been nursing a short-stack all day. A meltdown is when you have something within your grasp and let it slip through your fingers. You could say a football team that blows a 35-point lead had a meltdown, or that the Toronto Maple Leafs (who had a 4-1 lead halfway through the period) losing to the Bruins was a meltdown. You can’t have a meltdown when you’re behind. Carlos was in survival mode all day, fighting and clawing, calling it a meltdown was just a poor choice of words.

In the end Kessler did apologize for using the term “meltdown”, saying he was simply disappointed that Carlos missed the final table as he was pulling for him. I give him a lot of respect for admitting that he picked a poor term to describe the situation –something every writer (myself included) knows all to well.

The Timing

Probably the biggest head-shaker of the entire incident was the timing. Who goes to Twitter in the moments after such a painful elimination and says anything other than “Good run”, “you played like a champion”, etc?

Even people who are on Kessler’s side –that Carlos misplayed the final hands– have to understand the horrible timing of it all.


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